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PRESIDENT Mugabe has requested the Industry and Commerce Minister to compile a detailed report on the state of industry with a view to finding solutions to the constraints that the private sector is facing. Industry and Commerce Minister Michael Bimha told the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries congress in Mutare yesterday that President Mugabe wants a sector-by-sector report on industry.

“We have been requested by Cabinet to give a report on the state of industry and that is coming from the President,” said Minister Bimha.

“He (President Mugabe) said we want to know what is happening to industry, sector- by-sector, we want to know the constraints industry is facing and what Government can do to assist,” said Minister Bimha.

“Whenever I meet him (President Mugabe) his question is about industry. He has that concern. He wants industry back on track,” said Minister Bimha.

To resuscitate the ailing industry, Government crafted the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation which focuses on beneficiation and value addition.

Other initiatives to help heal the economic malaise include setting up of Special Economic Zones by the Government and re-engaging the international community including the Bretton Woods institutions.

Minister Bimha said Government will soon adopt principles for the establishment of SEZs expected to be presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, a senior Government official has said.

Officially opening the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries congress in Mutare yesterday, the Minister of Industry and Commerce Michael Bimha said the principles for the SEZs have been crafted.

“These will be presented to Cabinet by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (Patrick Chinamasa) in due course,” said Minister Bimha.

SEZs will create an environment conducive for foreign investors who will enjoy a number of concessions that would make it easier for them to conduct business while they recoup their investments.

The CZI annual congress is running under the theme “Taking Zimbabwe Industry to the Next Level” and will close tomorrow. The congress convenes at a time when the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product has declined to about 13 percent from 25 percent.

Minister Bimha said Government continues to receive applications from local manufacturing companies for duty removals for raw materials and increase of duty for imported products.

After realising that most companies are requesting for tariff reviews and that this will imply in some cases, reversing Zimbabwe’s commitments to regional and international obligations and making several amendments to the current tariff handbook, Government decided to also use the option of removing some products from the Open General Import License.

Removing products from OGIL means that goods will be imported at the discretion of the Minister of Industry and Commerce, through

the issuance of import licenses.

“This allows the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to carry out general monitoring and control of the importation of these goods,” said Minister Bimha.

Government has set up two aisory committees, one on Easy of Doing business and the other on imports. Minister Bimha urged CZI members to make recommendations with regards to how the business environment can be improved.

“To take our industry to the next level, Government is also calling upon the private sector to be proactive, innovative and dynamic in response to challenges in the business operating environment in order to remain viable and continue to contribute to the fiscus,” he said.

Minister Bimha said the CZI congress is being held at a time when the country is seized with the implementation of the Zim- Asset in pursuit of a new trajectory of accelerated growth and wealth creation.

Source : The Herald